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THHS stresses the importance of giving back to the community. One program that does so has become popular in the school; it is called Junior Achievement. As part of this organization, on February 7, thirty-eight seniors taught a range of grades within the local elementary school, P.S. 201. Working in partners, they were assigned classes beforehand and given lesson plans included in “kits” that were handed out by JA counselor Glenda Adjei. The lessons revolved around teaching the students simple finance and other necessary skills for the future.
Junior Achievement is a national nonprofit organization whose purpose is to inspire students in grades K-12 to succeed in a global economy by instilling knowledge of work-ethic and financial literacy at an early age. The organization does this by providing high school students with the proper training and curriculums to teach and prepare these younger students.
Senior Advisor Maria Assante encouraged seniors to participate by advertising the program on bulletin boards and talking to students in the senior lounge. Seniors then paired up and she arranged for training with Ms. Adjei.
THHS has been participating in the program for several years. Ms. Assante, who has been Senior Advisor for two years, explained, “The program was handed down to me from Dr. Steinmann, as she was the Senior Advisor for three years before me and I’m sure that she was doing it for a few years as well.”
Many students were able to share special, often humorous moments with their class. Senior Joanna Wong told of her experience with her partner, saying, “one of the things we had to teach them was about coins, and when we learned about the nickel, one of the kids exclaimed, ‘that’s your name!’ to my co-teacher whose name is Nicole.”
The lessons also included many fun activities that the young students greatly appreciated.
Senior Nicole Beltran said her favorite part was the ‘What’s your favorite animal?’ activity.
“Basically, the kids had to draw their favorite animals after listening to a story of a kid going to a farm,” she explained. “It was really cute seeing how much detail some of the kids put into their drawings and how creative the kids got.”
Many seniors who participated in the program chose to do so with hopes of pursuing careers in education themselves.
In fact, Ms. Assante said she stressed the program because it “benefits any students who might be thinking about getting into the education field.”
“A few of our students have some experience dealing with younger kids, either in after school programs or weekend religious education,” she said. “I think this program helps students get a real feel for what it’s like to be a teacher and see if it’s truly a career path for them.”
One senior, Carie Chan, taught first graders. She said, “As a music teacher and as a T.A. at a summer camp, I’ve been able to really experience the joy of working with children. Being a part of Junior Achievement was just another way to really prepare me in the path towards becoming an elementary teacher myself in the upcoming years.”
Joanna had a similar motive, saying, “I wanted to participate because for college, I’m pursuing Early Childhood Education and I thought this would be a great time to put my skills to use.”
However, she clarified that there are many other fields this program applies to, saying the event was an opportune time to see how the volunteers would respond to different situations. She added that the program’s advisors stressed this idea as well.
“… kids are really the ultimate test of potential occupations and approaches to certain fields,” she said.
Aside from benefitting the students they taught, many of the volunteers had personal gains from participating. Nicole said, “I’m a pretty shy person so joining this program helped me get rid of that fear, I learned how to adapt to the little kids’ needs since you have to find the right way to explain things.”
Carie summed up her experience in a few words: “The bonds created with each of the students at the end of the day was an unforgettable experience from the program.”